Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: April 2011

An Author Archive by Month (36 entries)

Ibsen Against the Wisdom of Crowds

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's a position even I consider too strong.  But as poetry, it's hard to beat.  From Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People:The majority never has right on its side.  Never, I say! That is one of these social lies... MORE

Of Kids and Kardashians

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Check out Steve Sailer's appreciative review of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  In many ways, we see eye to eye.  But passages like this show just how far apart we are.  Steve:Let me say that Caplan has written a... MORE

Cowen Contra Pacifism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I don't have time just now to reply to the many new comments on my pacifism, but I can't let Tyler Cowen's critique go unanswered.  At the outset, let me say that I realize how crazy and naive my position... MORE

Pacifism Defended

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
It's time to reply to my critics.  Here goes:Mike DC writes:Suppose some jerk burns a Koran, and devout Muslims respond with by killing every American they come across. Should I, and other Americans not organize for our collective defense? Whether... MORE

Rights: A License to Kill?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I am a libertarian and a pacifist.  Contrary to many, the two are not merely compatible; given the ugly realities of the world, the former implies the latter.  As I've put it before:I'm a pacifist not because I oppose self-defense,... MORE

I'm looking for estimates of the PDV of a newborn American baby from the point of view of the consolidated government budget, a.k.a. the "fiscal externality" of a birth.  Other than Lee and Miller (1990), I'm not finding much.  Anything... MORE

WSJ Reviews SRtHMK

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The Wall St. Journal likes my second book quite a bit more than my first:...Mr. Caplan is doing more than taunting the Tiger Mothers. He is making an economic argument. Analyzing scads of research on the effects of nature and... MORE

Price Floors on Trial

Regulation
Bryan Caplan
The Institute for Justice is suing to overturn Nashville's sedan and limo price floors:Can government force transportation businesses to charge a minimum price to protect politically connected companies from competition? That is the question the Institute for Justice (IJ) and... MORE

Applied Ignorance

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A key premise of my pacifism:2. The long-run benefits of war are highly uncertain.  Some wars - most obviously the Napoleonic Wars and World War II - at least arguably deserve credit for decades of subsequent peace.  But many other... MORE

The GMU Difference

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
How are GMU economists different from normal economists?  Many ways, but here's one that's struck me lately:Them: Impossibly high intellectual standards for a handful of high-status research questions - and embarrassingly low intellectual standards for all other questions.Us: Reasonably high... MORE

TANSTAAFL vs. Futurism

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
While writing my target essay for May's Cato Unbound, I decided I ought to take another look at Edwin Dolan's TANSTAAFL: The Economic Strategy for Environmental Crisis.*  First published in 1971, it is one of the earliest works of free-market... MORE

Home Prices During the Great Depression

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Home prices did amazingly well during the Great Depression.  According to Schiller's index, it looks likes inflation-adjusted prices fell from about 74 to 69 between 1929 and 1933 - about a 7% decline.  By 1940, they were up to about... MORE

Wittman-Caplan Debate Video

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The video from my 2007 debate with my lovable nemesis Donald Wittman is now up.  P.S. If you enjoy it, thank Liya Palagashvili and the GMU Econ Society.... MORE

Using Loopholes

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose an economist tells you about an obscure tax loophole: You can reduce your taxes without going to jail.  You've never taken advantage of it because you've never even heard about it.  But when you investigate his factual claims, they... MORE

Nature, Nurture, and Me in the NYT

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Check out Motoko Rich's new piece on nature and nurture in the NYT.  Academics often complain that journalists treat them unfairly, but once again, that's not my experience.  Highlight: Professor Heckman pointed to research showing that moving children from bad... MORE

How Pacifist Was the Last Anti-War Movement?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Not very, unfortunately.  Here's the WSJ on Heaney & Rojas:many antiwar Democrats saw the election of President Barack Obama as a sufficient victory for their cause and withdrew from the streets. The researchers conducted 5,398 surveys at 27 antiwar protests... MORE

Live Chat Highlight: A 4-Minute Reply to Will

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's my favorite part from today's WSJ Live Chat:1:58 Allison Lichter:  On the Ideas Market blog, Will Wilkinson argues that your argument really only applies to a narrow range of people: middle-and-upper class couples whoalready have at least one child,are... MORE

Household Production Bleg

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for the best pieces written about the effect of labor-saving devices (dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, disposable diapers, microwaves, etc.) on female labor force participation and gender roles.  Economic historians, labor economists, sociologists, autodidacts - what can you tell me?... MORE

WSJ Live Chat: SRtHMK Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm doing a Wall St. Journal Live Chat today.  Got questions?  Submit them!... MORE

Carroll, Wilkinson, and Four Demand Curves

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
WSJ.com now features my target essay on my parental odyssey, replies by Laura Carroll and Will Wilkinson, and my replies to their replies.  I successfully suppressed my urge to send a bunch of demand curves to the WSJ.  But I... MORE

Epistocracy and the Anti-Authority Tenet

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
While you're waiting for Jason Brennan's The Ethics of Voting to arrive in the mail, check out his new article in The Philosophical Quarterly.  In the book, Brennan merely argues that uninformed and irrational voters should voluntarily abstain.  In the... MORE

Jason Brennan's The Ethics of Voting

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Jason Brennan is my favorite philosopher under the age of 40.  Now he's published a marvelous book, The Ethics of Voting, with Princeton University Press.  In 210 short pages, he raises and resolves a series of ethical dilemmas every potential... MORE

Posner on Means-Testing

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
From Richard Posner, the man who possibly inspired me to stay in econ:Perhaps some politician will be bold enough to advocate that all entitlements programs, including social security as well as Medicare, be means-tested, as Medicaid is. There is no... MORE

How Twin Research Changed My Life

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My autobiographical essay, "How Twin Research Changed My Life," is now up at the Wall St. Journal's Idea Market.  They changed my title to "Twin Lessons: Have More Kids.  Pay Less Attention to Them," which isn't exactly my style or... MORE

School Nurses and Econ 101

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Most people flip out when economists suggest relaxing government regulation of medical quality.  How dare we point out the trade-offs between price, quality, and access?  But Robin notes an amazing example we've all known about since kindergarten: the school nurse.Most... MORE

Great Out the Gate?

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
At the Kauffman Foundation econ bloggers' conference, Tyler Cowen repeated his novel argument about CPI bias.  As he puts it in The Great Stagnation:In fact, income measures are most likely to understate growth during times when a lot of new... MORE

Is Capitalism Pro-Kid?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm pro-capitalism and pro-kid, and I'd like the two to be complementary.  So I have to smile when Corinne Maier, author of No Kid: 40 Good Reasons Not To Have Children, blames capitalism (plus the French government) for high birth... MORE

40 Things I Learned in My First 40 Years

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Today I turn 40.  To ease the pain, I've decided to write a list of important lessons I've learned during my first four decades.  In no particular order:Economics1. Supply-and-demand solves countless mysteries of the world - everything from rent control... MORE

Michael Huemer Profile

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Don't miss this great profile of my favorite living philosopher, the noble Michael Huemer of the University of Colorado.  Intro:Michael Huemer asks his students to imagine being a neighborhood vigilante. Suppose, he says, you live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, and... MORE

Here's the most open-ended question I included on last week's Graduate Public Choice midterm: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} Suppose... MORE

Why Not Health Care Austerity?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Like Arnold, I just read Kotlikoff's plan to reform American health care.  I realize that my first-best proposal - separation of health and state - has almost zero political support.  But I'd still like to know why Kotlikoff ignores a... MORE

Genetics, Politics, Culture, and the Future

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
On Facebook, I opined that boosting libertarians' Total Fertility Rate to 3 is the most realistic long-run path to liberty.  The underlying assumption is that political philosophy, libertarianism included, is fairly heritable.  Will Wilkinson then presented an interesting objection:Even if... MORE

Future of Political Philosophy Bleg

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Will any fundamentally new political philosophy emerge in the Western world during the next fifty years?  If not, why not?  If so, what is it likely to be?... MORE

Hypocrisy and Child Labor

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson on child labor:Kids work hard at school, housework, sports, practicing music, supporting clubs, etc. and none of this cruelty is prevented by "child labor" laws. Such laws only prevent getting paid to work; they don't even stop kids... MORE

Would You Give Up Your Health Insurance?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
A question from lunch: If you could give up your health insurance in exchange for the cash required to pay for it, would you do so?  Sure, the cash would be taxed.  But if you buy the empirical evidence on... MORE

Desert Defended

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Matt Zwolinski responds at length to my two earlier posts on poverty and desert.  I'm going to limit myself to his most telling points.1. Discerning desert is doubly difficult:It's important to distinguish between two kinds of problem we might have... MORE

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